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Making the case for clinics

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Half of visitors to retail clinics go there because of a cold or flu, according to health care market researcher Kalorama Information.

MinuteClinic patient_Oct2014In survey of 2,000 U.S. adults, Kalorama found that about 700 have visited a retail health clinic. The reasons they cited for going to a clinic included vaccination (named by 74%), cold/flu (55%), headache (23.3%), earache (13.4%) and a physical (18%).

“The data suggests that retail clinic visitors are generally going for very base-level treatments,” stated Bruce Carlson, publisher of Kalorama Information. “But those are the basis of building a practice and could be upgraded to other services.”

U.S. retail clinics tallied sales of more than $1 billion in 2014, and the over 2,100 clinics open at the start of 2015 are projected to top 2,700 by the end of 2019, according to Kalorama’s Retail Clinics 2015 report.

“There’s a significant amount of visitors who were visiting a retail health location for a physical,”  said Carlson.  “Some of this is camp or work physicals, or wellness programs marketed by the clinics.  This indicates the clinics are getting into a traditional practice area for the average physician office.”

Kalorama’s report also notes that retail clinics “feature a high transparency of pricing, with rates often prominently displayed. Low-cost services are enabled by high throughput and cost containment, with broad purchasing power across many locations.” And a rising number of clinics are accepting payment through health insurance, as well as with cash, check or credit card.

Although retail clinics don’t use most of the sophisticated medical equipment found in hospitals or specialty centers, such as advanced imaging devices, because they provide only basic care, clinics are becoming relatively large users of point-of-care (POC) tests, clinical chemistry and immunoassay laboratory tests and vaccines, according to Kalorama.

“The advantage of these clinics is that not only are they earning revenue for the companies that own them, but they also can bring customers to the store where they are expected to make more purchases,” Carlson observed.


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